Social workers help people in many different walks of life, but what does a military social worker do? They are social workers who specialize in the problems that are specific to people enlisted in the military, their families and veterans. Military social workers may be civilians, or they may be in the military themselves.
Becoming a Military Social Worker
A master’s degree in social work is necessary to become a military social worker. The person should have a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field, such as counseling or psychology. They will need special training in military social work and might also be required to have two or three years of experience in clinical social work. Military social workers may enlist in one of the four branches of the military or the reserves, where their master’s may make them eligible for a commissioned officer’s position, or they might work with the Veteran’s Administration. They might also work on military bases as civilians, in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, in community centers or in private practice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for social workers, and clinical social workers in particular, are expected to grow at a rate that is much faster than usual compared to other professions.
Helping Enlisted Service People
People in the military, and those who go into combat in particular, are subject to a unique set of stresses, and military social workers help them deal with some of those stresses. On base, a military social worker may work with a team that includes a chaplain, a doctor and a psychiatrist. The job may involve helping clients find the resources for the support they need or may involve providing direct care. Among the issues a military social worker may deal with are anxiety about deployment or during active duty, dealing with disabilities or post-traumatic stress disorder, coping with returning home after a tour of duty and adjusting to life as a civilian.
Veterans have some of the same needs that people enlisted in the military do, but they also may turn to social workers to help them access housing, education, health care and job opportunities. As part of the VA, military social workers may also work in geriatric services with older veterans. Some veterans may struggle with reintegration after they leave the military. Military social workers might focus on particular populations, such as working with homeless veterans.
Helping Military Families
What does a military social worker do besides work with people who are currently or were formerly in the armed forces? They may also work with the families of people who are active duty or veterans. Military families may face many challenges when one of them is dealing with trauma from combat. These include addiction, domestic abuse and suicide prevention. Military social workers may help the families directly or help them access the resources they need.
Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Master of Social Work Online (MSW) Degrees
Military social work is a highly specialized and challenging field to work in, but it is also rewarding. Military social workers have the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of enlisted individuals, veterans and their families. What a military social worker does is critical in maintaining a functional environment for people who are in or who were in the armed services.